Review: OCBC FRANK (Late 2022 Edition)

OCBC FRANK has been a great card since its revamp in July 2020. It gave a handsome 6% cashback rebate, and was clear and easy to understand. All one needed to do was to spend on Paywave and online transactions, two categories which cover practically most things one can think of. We eventually found out that OCBC FRANK even gave its high 6% rate for CardUp transactions, paying for many things that normally do not accept credit cards.

It didn’t hurt that the card had a clean and sleek design, and there really wasn’t much one could fault this card for. I have met the card’s minimum spend almost every single month since 2 years ago, and it’s unfortunate this is going to end come November 2022.

The new OCBC FRANK, from November 2022 onwards

ProviderOCBC
TypeConditional Cashback
Earn Rate– 8% on foreign currency transactions
– 8% on mobile contactless*/online transactions in SGD
– Additional 2% cashback on selected green merchants
– 0.3% on others
Minimum spendS$800 per month
LimitsSub-limit of S$25 per category
Overall S$100 cashback per month
Annual FeeS$192.60 (free for first year, generally waived in subsequent years withg S$10,000 annual spend)
*You must add the card to Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, Fitbit Pay and Garmin Pay. Using the card physically does not earn this rate.

OCBC is spinning this change as “an upsized cashback programme” and that is really anything but frank. While it does seem like you can get 8% or even 10% on certain transactions, sub-limits and minimum spends make it impossible to achieve these rates in practice.

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Another “10%” card

The S$25 cap on local transactions means that you would max out the 8% earn rate with just $312.50 of spend, leaving you far from the required S$800 minimum spend. If you spent all S$800 on SGD spending, your cashback is only S$25, making for an effective cashback yield of 3.13%. That’s a far cry from the pre-nerf version which would give as much as S$48 or 6% cashback for S$800 of local spending.

CategorySpend AmountCashback Earned
Foreign SpendingS$0S$0
Local SpendingS$800S$25
OverallS$800S$25 (3.13% yield)

Your cashback improves a little if you add on some spending in the “green merchants” category such as:

  • bus/train rides via SimplyGo
  • BlueSG
  • Charge+
  • Electric Vehicle Charging
  • Greenlots
  • SG Bike

Such transactions get additional 2% cashback on top of the 8% given by the mobile contactless/online payment category. This is how OCBC claims “10% cashback” which is rather disingenuous, and OCBC FRANK finds itself in the company of the likes of UOB One and DBS LiveFresh which also purportedly give 10% cashback on public transport even if sub-limits and minimum spends make it impossible to get an effective rate near this figure.

A foreign spending card, perhaps?

To get a higher earn rate, you would need to clock spend in the foreign spending category.

CategorySpend AmountCashback Earned
Foreign SpendingS$400S$25
Local SpendingS$400S$25
OverallS$800S$50 (6.25% yield)

Using your OCBC credit card for foreign transactions, like many other bank credit cards, incurs fees. OCBC charges a currency conversion fee of 1%, followed by a bank admin fee of 2.25%.

When you reach the S$800 minimum spend with a mixture of local and foreign spend, your cashback yield becomes a lot more respectable at more than 6%, and this should cover your foreign currency fees with a comfortable earn rate to spare.

OCBC FRANK may hence be a decent choice for those with foreign currency spending to make.

Maybe for CardUp, or just a fuss-free “lazy card”?

I see no new exclusion involving CardUp or its MCC, and as such the card should still continue to work for that service, albeit with a lower cashback yield. CardUp is used to make payment for things with your credit card that normally don’t accept credit cards, and you earn the difference between your card’s rewards and the fee CardUp charges.

The OCBC FRANK also works as a “lazy card” in my opinion, and you can use it to make payment for your stuff either online or via your phone’s contactless wallet, and get a cashback yield of 3.13% as long as you spend S$800 within the month. Around 3% is about what non-optimisers can hope to get, and while lazy cards that come with a minimum spend aren’t the most ideal, it isn’t the most cumbersome of requirements to meet.

Alternatives

I have been dual-wielding the OCBC FRANK and UOB EVOL for some time now, and this new OCBC FRANK is probably going to fall out of my card strategy. OCBC FRANK has been part of the cashback triplets sharing very similar cashback mechanics, and its nerf leaves space for DBS LiveFresh to come back in as the most obvious replacement.

With flights resuming and travel coming back strong, mile cards may also be a beneficiary of a good cashback card turned bad, so stay subscribed if you want to see updates to my card strategy just in time for 2023.

Conclusion

A little birdy told me that OCBC was bleeding money on the 6% OCBC FRANK, and that’s probably not even all that revealing since 6% is obviously quite a high rate for banks to subsidise your spending. Unfortunately, sugarcoating something as an enhancement or “upsize” when it’s readily apparent that it’s a nerf just comes across as anything but frank.

It also does not bode well for other cashback cards, and I expect UOB EVOL is at danger of being nerfed in a not too distant future.

The good:

  • Pretty decent as a foreign + local spend card
  • Pretty okay as a “lazy card”, as long as you spend exactly S$800 a month on this
  • Pretty okay as a CardUp card

The bad:

  • Earn rates are pretty mediocre now

The ugly:

  • A possible contagion effect where UOB EVOL and/or other cashback cards get nerfed

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